From education to employment

£13m for Trade Unions to deliver learning support and upskill workers

More than £13million will support Trade Unions deliver skills solutions and learning support to workers over the next three years, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething announced today (31 Mar).

The Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) programme and the Wales TUC Trade Union Education programme support Trade Unions in Wales to develop the essential skills and employability of the workforce, with a particular emphasis on removing barriers for traditional non-learners.

The new phase of the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) programme will see 18 unions receive funding to provide a range of activities to upskill individuals in the workplace and progress their career aspirations.

This year’s WULF Learner Survey showed 52 per cent of respondents reported the programme had led to a pay increase, while 16 per cent reported their learning resulted in a change of job role.

In total, 70 per cent of learners in WULF are women and 22 per cent of those surveyed reported to have physical, sensory, learning or mental health impairments.

The programme, which has operated for more than twenty years, is supported by Wales TUC.

Projects funded over the next three years include:

  • The Sustainable Skills Shop for the Future of Wales project from USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers). This will focus on upskilling shop workers with digital skills.
  • The Learning Partnership Programme by ASLEF (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen). This will introduce a Level 3 apprenticeship standard for train drivers.
  • The Full STEAM Ahead project from BECTU (Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union). This will support the creative industries in their recovery from the Covid pandemic.

The next stage of the programme will build on the flexibility and innovation of the programme during the pandemic, when it focused on helping workers who experienced redeployment into different roles, furlough, and job losses.

The Welsh Government’s Programme for Government commits Ministers to building on the success of WULF, through greater promotion of workplace learning opportunities, delivering the Young Person’s Guarantee and prioritising decarbonisation.

It will also support the ambitions set out in the recently published Stronger, Fairer, Greener Wales: A Plan for Employability and Skills, including fair work for all, and helping people in employment to access better jobs, upskill and boost their careers prospects.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“Our ambition is to deliver a fairer and more equal Wales, where we work to ensure nobody is left behind or held back, and with a commitment to changing people’s lives for the better.

“Supporting workers to upskill, change path and experience greater job satisfaction is key to helping them fulfil their potential.

“This will also help us deliver the skills Welsh businesses require, both now and in the future, by driving workforce diversity, making the most of our talent in Wales, and shaping an economy that works for everyone.

“The WULF delivered positive outcomes for workers during the incredibly challenging conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic, and I want to see that success continue as we transition to a greener economy that is more prosperous for all.”

Among those to have benefitted from WULF programmes are:

  • Helen Ward, from Transport for Wales, who is currently enrolled on an apprenticeship to become a train driver via ASLEF.
  • Craig Kinsey, who accessed a pilot Open University scheme through CWU (Communication Workers Union). He achieved a distinction pass, and was able to pass on his knowledge and promote Open University learning to colleagues.

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